If like me you have an Android phone, the chances are that your life is inextricably linked to Google. You probably have a Gmail account. Your contact book is stored on Google’s servers, if you are one of the 100million users that signed up to Google+ or use Picasa then your photos reside on the Google servers too. That video footage that you uploaded to Youtube, yes that’s on the behemoths servers as well. Your search history, your books and your music collection are all part of the story not to mention any documents on Google Docs.
For ease of access, usability and sheer simplicity its a fantastic setup. If I choose to wipe or upgrade my phone then within seconds of logging in I can have my contacts restored, my calendar showing exactly whats happening and when, my music library re-synced, my photos safely back in the gallery and my videos available to view. Wonderful………
Lying not very deeply within the Google Terms of Service page is the following statement,
We may suspend or stop providing our Services to you if you do not comply with our terms or policies or if we are investigating suspected misconduct.
So just for a moment imagine, someone somewhere has decided to report you for alleged misconduct or you accidentally fall foul of a little known policy (lets face it, how many of the hundreds of millions of Google users have read the terms and conditions or the policies??) You may be as innocent as the day is long, you may be a cross between Princess Diana and Mother Theresa with a bit of Lassie thrown in for good measure but if Google decides that you need investigating then BOOM! account suspended.
Where are your contacts? Where are your photos? How do you show the mother-in-law the video that you uploaded of your childs sports day? What time is little Johnny’s dentist appointment?
Who do you turn to? Is there someone you can talk to? Can you appeal?
Well this is where things become a little tricky, try finding contact information on Googles pages for anything that doesn’t take you in circles. Phone numbers, actual names? Not gonna happen! In fact, finding a way to resolve this potentially life changing issue is nigh on impossible.
So in the vein of prevention being better than cure what can be done to prevent a catastrophic data loss?
The answer is simple…..Backup, backup, backup.
Using Google’s Data Liberation tool you can backup all your vital data offline and you should also make a copy of your phones SD card on your computer. Remember that while the practicality of being able to access your data anywhere at anytime is fantastic, the loss of this ability is often beyond your control.
This having been said, its worth remembering that there are hundreds of millions of Google account holders and a quick web search reveals that whilst incidents such as described do happen, they are relatively few and far between but remember to always BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP!